tv U.S. Capitol Historical Society Freedom Award CSPAN August 22, 2016 2:32pm-3:31pm EDT
archives, reel america, revealing the 20th century through archival films and newsreels. the civil war, where you hear about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies, to learn about their politics, policies and legacies. all this month in primetime and every weekend on american history tv on c-span3. in a moment, we'll have more from our american history tv programs that are normally seen weekends here on c-span3. coming up, historian and author david mccullough receives the u.s. capital historical society's freedom award. that's followed by a look at the congressional papers collection. and then the history of organized crime in the south during the 1950s. ♪
100 years ago, president woodrow wilson signed the bill creating the national parks service, and thursday we look back on the past century of these caretakers of america's natural and historic treasures beginning at 10:00 eastern and throughout the day, we take you to national park service sites across the country as recorded by c-span. at 7:00 p.m. eastern, we're live from the national parks services most visited historic home, arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial at arlington national cemetery. join us with your phone calls as we talk with robert stanton, former national park service director, and brandon buys, the former arlington house site manager who will oversee the upcoming year long restoration of the mansion, slave quarters and grounds. thursday, the 100th anniversary of the national park service, live from arlington house at 7:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3.
coming up next, author and historian david mccullough receives the u.s. capitol historical society freedom award and delivers remarks. congressional leaders pay tribute to mr. mccullough's achievements including two pulitzer prizes and two national book awards. this event took place in statuary hall of the u.s. capitol and runs about an hour. >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. i'm tom coleman. i'm the chairman of the board of the u.s. capitol historical society and former member from the state of missouri. i'm filling in tonight for ron sarrisen, our president, who is not feeling well, and cannot come tonight. we will miss him, but we will soldier on in his absence. welcome to statuary hall and the 2016 presentation of our freedom
award. we have been doing this since 1993, recognizing individuals as well as organizations who have broadened our understanding and deepened our appreciation for freedom. tonight we're privileged to honor david mccullough who remarkable rich and varied body of work has brought the american story to vivid life. with an inquisitive mind, and ever active royal typewriter, and an authoritative but pleasant voice that sounds like it comes from the outer reaches of the cosmos he has exercised an extraordinary gift for expressing the essence of the times and personalities that shaped our history and therefore our present. so at this point, we do have -- there, this is right on cue. we have several people here tonight of the leadership, and kevin mccarthy, the majority
leader, has just walked in. kevin, come on up. this is your introduction. to say a few words of welcome. and congratulations. kevin. >> thank you very much. thank you very much for having me. first, let me thank everyone for being here this evening. and especially want to thank the u.s. capitol historical society for their work educating the american people about our great history. you see, americans have a long history of looking to the future. to be american is to make the frontier first new, then known, and then familiar. but an unfortunate side effect is to forget. it is not the basic facts we forget. we can always look up when the
first session of congress was or the orders of the president or when the wright brothers overcame every doubt holding us back and flew. what we forget is to wonder. we can fly. power is transferred peacefully here. the people do rule. these are exceptions in history, which make them all the more powerful. david mccullough does not only report the facts, he makes us wonder at our history. his ability to make history alive and compelling is reason enough for david to win awards. but why the freedom award? because freedom is something else we have gotten used to. we know freedom of the press, freedom to worship, freedom to govern ourselves. we see these practiced every day. and when our freedom becomes
normal, we forget the sacrifices of time, of security, and more profoundly of life that made so that we could be free and keep our freedom. we forget exercising our freedom can be frustrating and slow. now, we're in congress. and there are few places more frustrating or slower in the world. the legislative process will never attract as many viewers as i say "the game of thrones," but it is freedom at work. it is self-government at work. and david mccullough recognizes and he urges us to use his words to be amazed by it. in 1989, speaking to a joint session of congress, he called on the people to take pride in self-government and speak at a, quote, to the great victories
that have been won in congress. the decisions of courage and vision achieved, the men and women of high purpose and integrity who served here. politics is messy and confusing. so is self-government. but freedom should astound us. america should astound us. and heck, i believe even congress should astound us. david is a missionary of freedom because he inspires a love of american history. and american history is rooted in freedom so i congratulate you on this award, not only for helping us to remember, but helping us to love our country and the people and institutions that kept us free. thank you. [ applause ]
>> kevin wants to go down in the history books, favorably, perhaps. there are some special guests here tonight that i want to introduce. the first and foremost is rosalie barns mccullough. the wife of david for 62 years, and his confidante as i understand since the teenage years for both of them. if you're anything like my wife, you're probably his best editor as well. would you please, along with your children, four children and three grandchildren, stand and be recognized? in addition, we have members of congress, both from the house and the senate here tonight as well as former members and other folks that are in the historical area of teaching and we recognize their importance and we welcome all of you as well.
at this point, i'm going to introduce dan jordan, david's colleague and friend, long time friend, to introduce david for his award. and as i have dan, where is dan? come up. as he comes up, i'm going to introduce dan, who is -- and had directed the nonprofit thomas jefferson foundation for 23 years and was a scholar and residence at the university of virginia. dan is the author of several books and nearly 100 published essays on american history. he appeared in a number of television productions including ken burns public television presentation called thomas jefferson. i had the pleasure some years ago of working with dan, actually interviewing students who wanted a harry s. truman foundation scholarship where i saw and witnessed his fair-handedness and compassion for young people. so, dan, thank you, i'm so glad you're here tonight to introduce your friend and former colleague. thank you.
>> thank you, tom, for those kind words. ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, my wife lou and i are honored to be here for this special program and presentation. in the spirit of full disclosure, i spoke with david about my introduction. his counsel was unequivocal, namely the more exaggeration the better. i'm sure everyone in this magnificent room knows that david mccullough is truly america's historian. you know he has written important books on important subjects. he has written books that have
won major awards. he has written books that have been best sellers. he has written books without exception that stay in print. you also probably know that his magnificent biography of john adams became the basis of a highly acclaimed hbo miniseries. it received a record 23 emmy nominations. and it garnered a record number of 13 emmy awards. no one else has even been close. some of you know that david has hosted and he has narrated a long list of special television
programs on pbs and otherwise. some of you know also that occasionally he narrates a feature film like seabiscuit. most of you also know that there's no finer speaker about american history than david mccullough. taking this extraordinary venue itself, david has addressed a joint session of congress. during bicentennials of the capitol, he was the featured speaker. as the freedom statue ascended to her perch on the dome. and not far from this magnificent building, david has spoken multiple times at 1600 pennsylvania avenue.
at least some of you know that david is a proud son of pittsburgh. and some of you know that he is a true blue alumnus of yale, class of 1955. ladies and gentlemen that's quite a list of accomplishments. it's quite extraordinary but you likely have heard all of that before. so i would like to share with you ten things with apologies to david letterman, but ten things with abut ten things you might not know about david mccullough. number ten -- we're going to work down. he never writes a book on a subject he knows. he writes to learn.
number nine, you might not know that some people have called david a rock star and that his good friend tom hanks has called him in public and with women and children in the audience, has called him, quote, an american sex symbol. number eight, you might not know that david insists on writing about history where it was made. for john adams, he wanted to climb an ancient staircase in a historic church in philadelphia, pennsylvania. literally following in the footsteps of john adams. let me emphasize the two words, ancient staircase. think about our man mccullough,
ascending step by creaky step until he entered the bell tower and tried to imagine what john adams would have seen. for his monograph, 1776, he came up with a creative idea of reenacting george washington's crossing of the icy delaware river. and he actually had a couple of takers to serve on his crew and one was the artist andrew watts. and the other was yours truly. fortunately, calmer heads prevailed. thank god. number seven, you might not know that david is truly a gifted painter, especially with watercolors.
you might not know that david was an extra in one of the very few great movies about congress, "advise and consent." if you catch a rerun, look for the handsome young reporter on press row. number five, you might not know that david has been a tireless champion of saving the hallowed ground of our historic sites. think back to disney's proposed theme park near the manassas battlefield. david was a victorious warrior working with dick mow who was supposed to have been here tonight. and other heros who saved that
hallowed ground. number four, david has been equally tireless in his fight against historical illiterousy, especially among young americans who know less and less and care less and less about our nation's history. number three, you might not know that david has a beautiful baritone voice and can sing melodically and in key almost any tune from a major broadway musical, and on the rhythm theme, he can dance the socks off of just about anybody in this audience. with rosalee perhaps as an exception. he's a very good cook, too,
especially if he's using his own recipe for spaghetti. number two, you might not know that david mccullough is a devoted family man and is here tonight with his partner of over 60 years and rosalee has been introduced. she is the chairman of the board. she keeps track of their five accomplished children and their spouses and their total of 19 grandchildren. and finally, the number one thing that you might not know about him is that it would be impossible, impossible to have a friend who is more loyal or more generous than david mccullough. [ applause ] >> dan, excellent job. thank you very much. [ applause ]
>> david, it's my pleasure to present to you the u.s. capitol historical society freedom award. its encryption is, i can't read it backward, "to david mccullough, in grateful recognition of your empathetic, nuanced and fundamentally human approach to telling the american story. unmatched voice and vibrancy, you've enhanced our understanding of the lives and times of the extraordinary people who have shaped our nation. in so doing, you inspire the informed citizenship that is the foundation of true freedom."
evening, i am, needless to say, swept off the feet with this occasion and my feelings of very everlasting gratitude. it could hardly be greater, this award in my view, and i thank the capitol historical society from the heart. i thank two of the many friends and members of my family, a number of whom i'm happy to say are with us this evening and have been such immense help to me in my work now for more than 50 years. so here we are in the capitol of the united states of america on capitol hill, the acropolis of our nation. it is a building like no other in the land. highest aspirations of a free
and open society have been written into law generation after generation. where time and again brave, eloquent words have changed history and where the best and some of the worst of human motivations have been plainly on display. this magnificent structure has been called the temple of liberty. the spirit of america, writ in stone. a mighty engine. an ennobling shrine. a city unto itself. thomas jefferson called it the great commanding theater of our nation. it may also be said that here on this site, within these walls, there is an abundance of story such as we found in no other one structure in all our country. some have likened congress to an ever-flowing river, the content of which keeps steadily changing.
from the time congress first took up business here on the hill in 1800, more than 11,000 men and women have come and gone as members of the house and senate. the current members number 535, but the continuing population of this city unto itself is greater by far. there are a total of 1,800 capitol hill police serving or a force more than three times the size of congress. 100 or more engineers look after electricity and plumbing and fire protection. another small army of workers maintains the grounds. barbers, chefs, waiters and waitresses, a resident physician, and congressional staff members are also part of the workforce within this building. then there are the 65 tour
guides who serve a steady flow of visitors numbering from 3 million to 5 million a year. men, women, schoolchildren by the thousands from all parts of the country and the world. i set foot here first as a high school student all the way from pittsburgh. i was 15. it's fitting we do justice to the past and that we travel far and wide to see where our history happened. to the birthplaces and homes of our notables. to independence hall and battlefields and legendary river crossings. but think of the volume and range and the immense consequences of so much that has taken place at this one site. the passing of the 14th amendment, for example. or the declarations of two world wars. or approval of the marshall plan and building an interstate highway system like no other on
earth. it was their during the great depression that franklin roosevelt said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. known the world over, john kennedy called us to ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. to be sure, there has been no lack of pointless onstage preening within this commanding theater. no shortage of self-serving blather and brawling and endless days consumed with matters unbearably dull. we have the power to do any damn fool thing we want to do and seem to do it about every ten minutes, one senator, william fulbright, commented a half a century ago. now we are confronted with the disgraceful dialing for dollars reality as things currently
conducted by our representatives in congress. but history is human. history is composed of the bad and the good. as so much that has taken place here so amply illustrates. there was that day on the senate floor in 1856 when political anger turned to manic rage and a south carolina congressman, preston brooks, attacking with a heavy cane -- attacked with heavy cane and nearly clubbed to death the outspoken abolitionist senator charles sumner of massachusetts. there was a day in 1950 when a freshman senator from maine, margaret chase-smith, had the courage to stand and challenge senator joseph mccarthy as no one yet had. saying that those who shouted loudest about americanism all too frequently ignored such basic principles of americanism as the right to criticize. the right to hold unpopular beliefs. the right to protest. the right of independent
thought. harry truman later said to her, mrs. smith, your declaration of conscience was one of the finest things that's happened here in washington in all my years in the senate and in the white house. as should be appreciated, too, there is here and rightfully an enduring pride that comes with serving one's country, of navigating with skill and good intentions and to good effect within this political institution. congressman barbara jordan once put if proudly, i am neither a black politician nor a woman politician. just a politician. a professional politician. my friend senator patrick leahy of vermont while standing outside the capitol on 9/11 said to himself, lord, let us get back in there. we had to say to the american
people that we were here including our loyal and brave staff. we have an old expression about those who have departed the scene. gone but not forgotten. if not forgotten, they're not gone. think about those who passed through these very doors. think of the turning points in our history that have taken place here, right here where we are gathered in statuary hall. the old house of representatives. it was here james madison, james monroe, john quincy adams, andrew jackson, and millard fillmore were all inaugurated president. here that a foreign citizen first addressed congress for the first time. the marquee to lafayette.
this is historic ground if ever there was. here. right here. here congress established the smithsonian institution and voted for war on mexico. a decision strongly opposed by many including a congressman from illinois, abraham lincoln. here by act of congress, eight states became part of the union. alabama, missouri, arkansas, michigan, florida, texas, wisconsin, and california. states that in area nearly doubled the size of the country. acoustics in the hall were erratic, mainly terrible. from certain locations on the floor, one could hear what was being said, even whispered on the far side of the room. at the same time, it was next to impossible to hear what was being said from the podium. there are old tales of ghostly footsteps echoing here in the night.
according to one story, a capitol policeman entered the hall on a new year's eve to find all the statues dancing. one of the most moving moments in our country's story took place just over there. a brass plate marks the spot on the floor. in 1831, at age 63, considered quite old at the time, a newly elected member of the house, john quincy adams, took his seat. 31 years earlier, in 1800, his father, president john adams, had addressed congress when it convened for the first time in the still unfinished capitol. john quincy had been an ambassador several times. a senator. secretary of state. and president. now he had returned to the same setting where he had been
inaugurated president to serve as a mere freshman congressman. it was something no president had ever done and as he wrote in his diary, "no election or appointment had ever conferred on him such pleasure" including the presidency. he was short, portly and bald, a bit drab in dress. not very impressive in appearance. but he soon left little doubt as to where he stood on issues. he was determined and he was incorruptible. he was also one of the few members of the house whose voice could be plainly heard from the podium, acoustical problems notwithstanding. mr. adams wrote congressman joshua giddings of ohio, belongs to no local district, to political party, but to the nation and to the people. adams had great love.
great reverence for the house of representatives. he loved the theater of his proceedings. loved, as he wrote, these echoing pillars of the great hall, the calls of ayes and nos. the different intonations of answers from different voices. the tone of the speaker in announcing the vote. the various shades of pleasure and pain in the members on hearing it, unquote. he served here for 17 years. rarely missing even an hour when the house was in session. he worked fervently to establish the smithsonian. opposed the war with mexico and with unfailing tenacity. and spoke with the eloquence scarcely equal then or since.
old man eloquent, he was called. and he battled as did no one else to abolish the so-called gag rule which kept congress from interfering with slavery in the slave states. indeed, he was the most ardent and faithful anti-slavery member of the house of representatives. right here. some nights he returned to his house, his home on "f" street, so exhausted he could barely get up the stairs. there were threats on his life. serious threats. but tenacity of purpose burned in him to the end. on the afternoon of february 21st, 1848, john quincy adams collapsed here at his desk. the brass plate marks the place. he was carried to the speaker's office over there. the white door. unconscious and too stricken to be moved. he died there two days later at age 80.
he had died in harness, as they said then. february 26th, he laid in state here. the room packed with an immense crowd including members of both houses, the supreme court, and president polk. we have never witnessed a more agust spectacle, wrote one in point of character, as a man and politician, none of the public men at washington said the "new york herald" are approachable to what mr. adams was. two all-important lessons of history stand clearly expressed in this, our national capitol. the first is that little consequence is ever accomplished alone. high achievement is nearly always a joint effort. as has been shown again and again in these halls when
leaders of the different parties, representatives from different constituencies, and differing points of view have been able for the good of the country to put differences aside and work together. i witnessed this firsthand in 1978 during the senate debate over the panama canal treaty. a measure strongly favored by the carter administration. my book on the canal, "the path between the seas" the result of six years of research and writing, had been published only the year before. convinced as i was that the treaty was much the wisest course for our country and panama, i volunteered as an independent advocate and i was on hand here on the hill through several months. at times i had the pleasure of
hearing my book quoted on the senate floor and by those taking opposite positions. so often as it is with history, it served to validate all kinds of opinions. in the course of the debates, i saw individual republicans and democrats alike change their point of view and i saw in maine both sides were trying to make what they felt to be the right choice. i witnessed no animosity, no enmity. in the end it was only when a number of republicans and senator howard saw the treaty as the right course and made it a joint effort that the treaty passed and over the last 28 years it's proven to be the right decision. the second lesson to be found here is that history is about far more than politics and war only. so much that is most expressive
of american life and american aspirations and american contributions to the human spirit are to be found in the arts. in architecture. paintings. sculpture. and engineering genius. we americans are builders at heart and in what we build we often show ourselves at our very best. you have only to look around at so much to be seen in this great building. in view of the current political climate, let me point out, too, how much of what we see throughout the building was the work of immigrants. william thorton, a physician who won a design competition for the capitol in 1792 was a native of tortola in the british west indies. benjamin henry latrobe, the first architect to take charge of the design of the building, including this hall, was born and educated in england.
james hoban, the architect who restored the white house after it was burned by the british during the war of 1812 and who also worked on the capitol was from ireland. and colin williamson, the stone mason who oversaw the foundation of the capitol, was a scot. there was the amazing artist whose vibrant works fill the uppermost reaches of the great rotunda under the capitol dome and whose decorative genius so brightens the corridors and hallways of the senate wing. a tiny figure who stood only 5'5", he, nonetheless, created monumental art and in an exuberant produced spirit here on a scale never seen before in our country. there was also carlo franzone,
the sculptor who did the statue of cleo, the muse of history there, above the main door, keeping note of the history taking place here. they, as you might imagine, were both from italy, as were numerous members of the workforce. skilled masons and stone cutters. it might also be added that our capital city, washington, itself, was the design of an immigrant. the french engineer pierre lenfante. and that the two finest most famous movies ever made about congress, "mr. smith goes to washington" and "advise and consent" were directed by immigrants. frank capra and otto priminger. yes, there were the african-american slaves who did much of the work on the capitol. how many in all will never be known, but play a large part, they did. notable evidence of their labors are the very pillars that you
see that stand all about us here. hired out by their owners, they cut the marble in the quarries. building and rebuilding the capitol took more time and labor and patience than many might imagine. things went wrong. there were angry differences of opinion over matters of all kinds. there were accidents. numerous injuries. and one dramatic narrow escape. at work one day on his frescos in the upper reaches of the dome, constantine know bermini slipped from his scaffold and only just managed to catch hold of a rung of the ladder. 15 minutes he hung for dear life, 50 some foot over the floor of the capitol until a capitol policeman happened to glance up and rush to the rescue. he was then 72 and had been at work in the capitol for 26 years.
the great dome famously took form through the years of the civil war and remains as intended. the commanding focal point of our capitol city. it's primarily the achievement of two exceptional americans, architect thomas walter and structural engineer montgomery c. meggs, such a story, each a story. walter started out as a bricklayer. meeks, a captain of the army corps of engineers was all of 36 when he took on one of the most challenging engineering efforts ever -- most challenging engineering assignment ever and created what stands as a masterpiece of 19th century civil engineering with inner and outer cast iron shells weighing nearly 9 million pounds. a great lover of the arts, an
artist himself, he also had much to do with art that was to fill the building including the part played by bermidi and the choice of the american sculptor, thomas crawford, to create the 19 1/2 foot high statue of freedom that would stand atop the dome. completed in 1863, the gleaming dome of our capitol, focal point of our capital city and through there and though there have been modifications around addition to the building in the years since, it remains as it was then, a symbol of freedom, a structure bespeaking more than any other in our history, our journey, invoking and encouraging
powerfully pride in our system and, yes, patriotism. and now we're in the midst of another election season, which like so many before will determine much to follow. far more than we can possibly know. the clock over there above the door on the side of cleo's chariot is the work of a clock maker named simon willard. it's been doing its job a long time. it was installed in 1837, 179 years ago. it ticks on, still keeping perfect time. my viewing is cleo, too, is attending to her role now no less than ever. taking note of the history we are and will be making. on we go. [ applause ]
>> david mccullough does not disappoint. what a great speech, remarks, whatever you want to call it. presentation. we all are indebted to david for bringing our history to life. john larson, the congressman from the 1st district in connecticut and the co-chair of the historic caucus in the house is going to give a few mementos and a few comments to david following his remarks here.
john? >> thank you, tom. and as you pointed out, david mccullough does not disappoint. what an honor to be here amongst so many gathered who are dedicated to the history that exudes from this building. it pains me, as a member of the house of representatives, that we continue to walk through statuary hall. this is a place that should be revered, for everything one of america's greatest historians has just so eloquently stated. abraham lincoln should not be relegated to a brass plate that people pass by. and i hope that the house of
representatives heeding along with the senate the remarks and the eloquence of mr. mccullough will take that into consideration for future generations so that this eloquent room might be once again restored to its grandeur. for 30 years, the capitol historical society has been passing out fellowships. those have led to the research and dedication and history that is so rich here in this great building and in this great country of ours. david, this evening, you made it possible in honoring you through the donations of so many people for us to expand upon that.
0 it's my great honor and is tradition when we're honoring people, we fly a flag over the united states capitol to commemorate their great achievement and accomplishment. you are, for history and especially for american history, what walter cronkite was for so many americans in television. you are the most trusted voice in america. it is such an honor to be with you on this dais and present you this flag that was flown over the united states capitol for your outstanding service to your nation that you so eloquently chronicle. >> thank you. plauz plauz [ applause ] [ applause ]
>> john, thank you very much. i failed to mention that john is on our board. we rotate republicans and democrats onto our board. we're the only bipartisan group in this hall. we hope to rectify that. i would like to introduce and ask to come forward the democratic leader, nancy pelosi who, in her own right is an historical figure, being the first female speaker of the house of representatives to give a few congratulate tory remarks. >> thank you very much. one time i was honored to give an honorary degree and so was david mccullough. you can just imagine how exciting it was to be honored at the same time he was and you can just imagine how horrible it was to have to follow him speaking on that occasion.
and here we are again. david, how magnificent, i hope that we can have that on the internet for everyone to listen and to learn. ron, what is this -- not ron. i know you're tom but i'm going to ron now. ron, one thing that you taught us in the top ten that we have in common with david mccullough is when he's writing, we're all learning, we are all learning. thank you, tom, for the opportunity to say a few words here. the reason i wasn't here at the very beginning was because there's one other element to all of the personnel you so beautifully honored in your remarks, david, and that is spouses who we are welcoming this evening for the lunch with the first lady tomorrow. [ applause ] my husband paul is here. ro rose alee, i know you will
appreciate that recognition. i think, ron, that -- and tom and ron, that this is the happiest day of john larson's life to be here with david mccullough being honored. but this isn't his first time in his history of the capitol he didn't give his history of the capitol. i remember when i was a brand new congressman in 1989 when david came to the house chamber to speak on the occasion of congress's bicentennial anniversary. this is a very rare and unique honor for someone to speak in the chamber who is not the head of state. there he spoke of the presence of these halls, its value to the present day, and he spoke of this room, this old chamber he spoke that day, this hand made clock as he did today, and the
statue of cleo, the muse of history. to take today 27 years later -- to, more. we've come together beneath her gaze. he spoke of the gaze of cleo. we come together under the gaze of cleo to thank you, david, for speaking to that muse so beautifully. we have been privileged to have david here when we celebrated returning to the statue of freedom over the top of the capitol in 1983. they had taken the statue down and polished her, whatever they did, restored the statue of freedom, and then it was a big occasion outside and the featured speaker that day for the return of the statue of freedom to the top of the capitol when david mccullough spoke. that was pretty excite that day, wasn't it, david? you were excited.
i remember. when they lifted her up, that was something remarkable. and he was here in 2008 with the cast of the hbo miniseries inspired by his book "john ad s adams." that was excited, tom hanks and all the rest of them here, the stars of that miniseries. few people, with us or not, have done so much as you to advance americans' appreciation of the great figures, advance and undertakings of our democracy. your words and their cadence with their unmistakable voice have brought millions of americans to a fuller understanding of our history. time and again you have shown us our heros in their ernestness, in their humility, great people in great times striving to be worthy of their age. you've inspired countless americans to be deserving of history's gaze. and i just might say because you talked about future generations, one of my staff people, henry
connolly -- is henry here? henry connolly, he told me -- he's a writer on my staff. he was so excited about the fact that you were coming and i said that's wonderful, we all are, and he said, no, it's special for me. he is my inspiration since i was a little boy to be a writer. i hope you can meet him. he went to yale, too, so you have that in common. his nobel laureate acceptance speech william faulkner spoke in this way about a writer's duty. to help man by the lifting of his heart by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of the past. tonight we honor someone who has fully realized that ideal. to his wife rose alee and the
entire mccullough family, thank you for sharing this national treasure with america. congratulations, our 2016 freedom award recipient, david mccullough. thank you, david. [ applause ] >> very nice. thank you. >> in closing let me say how important it is that as americans we understand and appreciate our common heritage. this is not always the case. the congressional district that i represented in northwest missouri included a small spa community of excels yes, sir springs. it was there that the elms hotel to be specific on election night in november of 1948 to which
president harry truman slipped away to avoid the press and the commotion associated with such a close election. as david tells the story in his award winning book "truman", around 6:30 the president had a ham and cheese sandwich and a glass of buttermilk. at 9:00 p.m. he went to bed, believing he had lost the election. at midnight he awoke, turned on the radio next to his bed, and heard nbc declare dewey the winner. he went back to sleep. four hours later a secret service agent woke him up and told him the late returns had put him over the top, he had won the election. a few years ago in the interest of passing on this bit of history to my nephew, we drove to the elms hotel that is now part of the sheridan chain.
believing that the hotel must have a small room to memallize this event, i inquired if we could see the room where harry truman learned he had been awarded the president. behind the desk the person said when we remodelled the hotel we made that room into a broom closet. the lesson is we never know when the occasion will rise when we will be called upon to do our part to preserve history and our heritage. so keep your eyes open. this evening was made special by contributions from the following. co bank, airlines for america, bank of america, and home depot. we appreciate their generous support. thank you for coming, ladies and gentlemen. we were treated to a unique event, now we ask you to join
the mccullough family and other members of the board to our reception. good evening. [ applause ] american history tv airs on c-span 3 every weekend telling the american story through events, interviews and visits to historic locations. this month american history tv is in primetime to introduce you to programs you could see every weekend on c-span 3. our features include lectures and history, visits to college classrooms across the country, to hear lectures by top history professors. american artifacts looks at historic sites and museums.
the civil war, where you hear about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction. and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies. to learn about their politics, policies and legacies. all this month in primetime and every weekend on american history tv on c-span 3. coming up today here on american history tv, while congress is on break, a look at congressional history. up next, it's a look at the congressional papers collection. and then the history of organized crime in the south during the 1950s. that will be followed by history and research on the u.s. capitol page project. >> queen latifa